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               St Clement Church Community Easter Season Service

 

Good morning to you all as we commemorate the 6th Sunday of Easter, sometimes known as Rogation Sunday.

Rogation Sunday is the day when the Church has traditionally offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who produce our food. The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days (the three days before Ascension Day) were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest.

Less of us today directly derive our livelihood from the production of food, yet it’s good to be reminded of our dependence upon those who do and our responsibility for the environment.  Traditionally, a common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister and churchwardens would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.  Such processions don’t often happen nowadays, and certainly won’t be this year, but I’m sure many services held today will mention Rogationtide in their prayers.

Much love and prayers and may Christ’s love sustain you always. 

Rev Di and family xx

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

Let us pray these traditional words for Rogationtide;

Remember, Lord, your mercy and loving-kindness towards us.

Bless this good earth, and make it fruitful.

Bless our labour, and give us all things needed for our daily lives.

Bless the homes of our parish and all who live within them.

Bless our common life and our care for our neighbour.

Hear us, good Lord. Amen.

Our prayers of Penitence

On this 6th Sunday of Easter, secure in the knowledge that God, who created us, loves us dearly, let us now confess before him those sins of which we are ashamed and which fill our lives with darkness and despair.

 

When we try to present a good image rather than to purify our hearts…. Lord, have mercy.

 

When we seek to please others rather than to speak the truth…….

Christ, have mercy.

 

When we are slow to admit that others may be right, or to say sorry if we are in the wrong……

Lord, have mercy.

 

When we honour God with our lips but keep him far from our hearts……

Christ, have mercy.

 

May the High King in heaven, with Jesus Christ his Son,                                                have mercy on us.  May all that dismays us and fills us with fear                                                                                                                                                                       be cleansed and forgiven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit                                                                                                                                                                           may we never be separated from the love of God                                                             in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   

                                                                                          

Let us pray our Collect for the sixth Sunday of Easter

Risen Christ, by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples: help your Church to obey your command and draw the nations to the fire of your love, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

The Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. (15. 9-17)

Glory to you, O Lord.

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

 

This is the Gospel of the Lord.    Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Reflection

A Secondary School English teacher asked her class to write their definition of a friend. One pupil said, “A friend is a pair of open arms in a society of armless people.”

Others said: “A friend is a mug of hot chocolate on a cold day.” “A friend is a beautiful orchard in the middle of the desert.” “A friend is a stiff drink when you’ve just had a terrible shock.” (I’m not sure how a school pupil would know that one….)

Lovely descriptions. Mark Twain once said, “The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady, loyal and enduring a nature, that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money!”

Friendship… Friendship is clearly a wonderful thing.

Our reading today is about friends and friendship.

Christians were called “friends” before they were called Christians.

Jesus said to the disciples, “I have called you friends.” Before anything else. “I have called you friends.” It was in Antioch long after the death of Jesus, that the disciples were first called ‘Christians' in the early church.

Another theme of our reading today is love. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

But the love of which Jesus speaks isn’t the romantic type we might think of when we hear the term. More accurately, the love of which our Lord speaks is taken from the Greek word; ‘Agape’ which describes such love as a characteristic of true friendship, that of genuinely good friends.

But what are some of the characteristics of good friendship?

Friends care about each other’s welfare and look out for each other.

In fact, deep friendships are often forged in the midst of common suffering.

Soldiers returning from the battlefield will speak of the ugliness of war and yet, in the same breath, they will talk about the friends that they made. 

Deep friendships are formed in times of natural disaster.

People, who were initially strangers, having been together through a terrible storm, or perhaps an earthquake, will often become the closest of friends and years later will sit and reminisce about their shared experiences.

Speaking of sharing, that’s something else friends do, the emotions of the ups and downs of life, material things, even money.  Despite Mark Twain’s humorous comment!

I once read the story of a very old African-American woman who’d spent over 75 years as a servant on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. 

When her mistress died, a member of the family said to the servant; ‘’you will miss her greatly. I know you were dear friends.”

“Yes ma’am,” said the servant, “I’m sorry my mistress has died, but we weren’t friends.” “Not friends?” was the reply, “I’ve seen you laughing and talking together lots of times.”  “Yes ma’am, that’s so,” said the servant, “We’ve laughed together, and we’ve talked together, but we were just acquaintances. You see, we didn’t shed any tears together. Folk have to cry together before they are friends.”

What else makes for friendship? According to Jesus, expectations are involved. Friendship often requires sacrifice of some sort, and, in some rare cases, even the supreme sacrifice. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I know we use those words on Remembrance Day, but we should also remember that during this Covid pandemic, many, many, NHS workers have paid that ultimate sacrifice, trying to save the lives of their patients.

They went above and beyond the call of being a friend.  Each and every one of them.  Have we ever had a friend like that? There’s one that we know of.

On a hill called Calvary, outside the city wall and overlooking the town dump, our friend died that we might live. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

But how do we get to be Jesus’ friend?

Jesus told us: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

A statement like that though could lead some to misunderstanding if we take it out of context. 

Remember what the command is: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” In other words, if you want to be my friend, be a friend to my other friends.

That sounds simple. But we know it isn’t.

Jesus didn’t choose the Pharisees as friends. The pious people, who prayed at least three times a day, who knew their Bibles, who worked hard at obeying all of God’s laws, and fasted once or twice a week to show their religious devotion.

Instead who did Jesus choose? Fishermen – known to be prone to swearing, impatient and hot-headed.  A tax collector – and everyone knew those people were swindlers.  A zealot – a fanatical revolutionary, who wanted all the tax collectors dead.  That must have made for some interesting dinner conversation…….God elected the rejected.

And as Jesus reminded the twelve in that Upper Room, “You did not choose me but I chose you.”  Gosh, that’s us……he chose us!

Jesus chose us – known to be somewhat less than perfect, known to have all kinds of problems in our lives. 

When I was a coach driver I’d see a vast array of car stickers on the trips away.  I remember one that read; ‘’Friends don’t let friends die without Jesus.”  But I now think it should be; “Friends don’t let friends live without Jesus.”

Share his friendship, that’s what we are called to do. Recalling those definitions with which we began with, we can add Charlie Brown’s wonderful insight – Standing all alone, Charlie says, “A friend is someone who sticks up for you when you are not there.”

That’s a bit like a eulogy. I would be more than content if, when the time comes, I am remembered as; ‘A friend of Jesus’. How about you?  Amen.

 

We close this reflection with our words of hope:

Because he lives we can face tomorrow, because he lives all fear is gone.

Because we know he holds the future, and life is worth the living,

just because he lives.  Amen.

 

Affirmation of our faith

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day and afterwards he appeared to his followers and to all the apostles: this we have received, and this we believe. This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith.

We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our intercessions this week are written by Liz Davies

Faithful God, your Son Jesus Christ gave us a new commandment to love each other. So, we ask you to teach us to love you in our neighbours so that by serving them we may also serve you.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                            Lord, graciously hear us

 

Almighty God, we pray for your Church which day by day gathers to praise you and to hear your Holy Word. We pray for all Christians worshipping around the world in small rural churches, great city cathedrals, on television and on the internet.

Give us, at home or here in St Clement Church, a sense of expectation as we come and inspiration as we go. Bless our vicar, Reverend Di, whose service to us all inspires us with the message of your salvation.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                Lord, graciously hear us

 

Creator God, the world so often seems to be a violent and fearful place. Give us the strength to love our enemies and to pray for those who by violence and acts of terrorism distort and demonise your wonderful creation.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                  Lord, graciously hear us

 

Loving God, help us all to be part of the healing ministry of your Church. Encourage us to constantly pray for those we know who are suffering in body, mind or spirit.                                                                                                                                         We bring before you all those suffering from Coronavirus – remembering at this time all those countries struggling to contain the pandemic and not having the necessary medical supplies to treat the seriously ill – we especially remember the people of India at this time.                                                             Deepen our love for our neighbours - especially those who are weak and vulnerable, help us to console the sorrowful and give hope to the dying.                                                                                                                                                               We especially remember at this time: Ken and Diane, Susan, Kate, Sue, Lyn, Jeff, Rupert and Linda and Martin.

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                          Lord, graciously hear us

 

 

Merciful God, your love reaches beyond the grave. We remember before you all those who were killed or injured in the collapse of the metro line bridge in Mexico City.                                                                                                                          At the end of our days on earth be with us and with those we love and with those whom we love and who have gone before us. We pray for all those who have recently died; give to the departed the perfect joy of your eternal love and to those bereaved by their passing the consolation of your perfect love.                              

Lord, hear us                                                                                                                                                 Lord, graciously hear us

 

Holy God, send us out into the world today mindful that as witnesses and servants, we should make you known in every place we visit and bear witness to the Gospel with acts of faith, hope and love.

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

 

 

Gathering our prayers and praises into one,

let us pray with confidence as our risen Lord taught us;

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then they were glad when they saw the risen Lord.

Alleluia!  May the peace of the risen Lord be always with us.

 

 

Blessing

May the light of Christ surround us, may the Love of God enfold us,

may the presence of God watch over us, may the power of God protect us and those whom we love,  and may we never forget that wherever we are, God is also.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page last updated: 7th May 2021 8:28 AM